Mendelssohn expands campus with acquisition of First Presbyterian Church
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center Board of Trustees President Bob Quimby announced the acquisition of First Presbyterian Church, 406 N. Main St., Rockford, at a press conference in the community room of the church Thursday, Oct. 11.
In a Nov. 30, 2011, press release, First Presbyterian reported that “after more than 100 years at the 406 N. Main St. location in downtown Rockford, Illinois, the members of First Presbyterian Church have voted to place their building and property for sale Jan. 1, 2012.”
The funds to purchase and renovate First Presbyterian Church were given to Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center by Dr. William and Leah Baskin. They are longtime supporters of Mendelssohn, and their commitment to the arts community in Rockford is well known and ongoing.
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is grateful for Bill and Leah and appreciates the belief they have in the organization’s mission: “Mendelssohn … exciting, personal, interactive music experiences,” and in the vision: “To be the pre-eminent center for diverse music programming and educational opportunities that foster excitement and creativity among audiences and artists.”
According to Beverly Broyles, Mendelssohn executive director: “Mendelssohn will have the opportunity to not only expand its physical campus for new performance and rehearsal space, but to also expand its educational programming to include a broad spectrum of the arts, including visual arts and dance.”
Using Mendelssohn’s classical music genre, in conjunction with the folk, Americana, jazz and world genres that the organization has incorporated from Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts, classes and workshops will be created for students of all ages.
Mendelssohn’s desire is to contribute to the vitality of downtown Rockford by becoming a vibrant “Space and Place for the Arts.” Studios will be created that may be used for individual and ensemble music instruction.
A program of early music education using the Orff and Kodaly methods is being considered. A variety of models for programming have been explored, including the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Mich., and the Youth Center for the Arts in Milwaukee.
Kantorei, The Singing Boys of Rockford, will establish residence in the second-floor space of the former First Presbyterian Church’s Education Wing. The Rock Valley Children’s Choir will continue to be in residence in the Mendelssohn Music and Movement Center in the current Mendelssohn building at 415 N. Church St., but will perform their yearly concerts at the former First Presbyterian Church. The Mendelssohn Chorale will continue to rehearse in the current Mendelssohn building.
The former First Presbyterian Sanctuary will join Mendelssohn’s Emerson Auditorium and Emerson House as a performance space for concerts.
The first concert taking place in the new performance space will be at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, when Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble will perform as part of Mendelssohn’s Charlotte’s Web Concert Series.
Developing a commercial space that could become a coffee shop and retail space has been part of the discussion for use of the facility, in addition to having the ability to host lectures, art exhibitions and more. Rental of the facility for weddings and receptions is also part of the plan.
Since 1884, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center has been a source of musical leadership and excellence for the residents of northern Illinois. Mendelssohn PAC, a non-profit organization at 415 N. Church St., Rockford, serves the community with a range of concerts, youth music programs and performing ensembles for all ages.
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is the home of the Rock Valley Children’s Choir, the Mendelssohn Chorale and Kantorei, The Boy Singers of Rockford. Charlotte’s Web is now a division of Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center.
Visit www.mendelssohnpac.org for more details.
From the Oct. 17-23, 2012, issue
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